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Crowded Field in Special Election for NYC Public Advocate; 23 Candidates Seek Position



NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez is a candidate for the job of Public Advocate, which was previously held by Letitia James. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

“With New York Attorney General-elect Tish James’ upcoming inauguration, it is my pleasure to announce the special election for Public Advocate will take place on Tuesday, February 26, 2019,” announced New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio three weeks ago. “This date will help maximize voter turnout, and my Administration will work around the clock to make sure every New Yorker is encouraged to exercise their right to vote.”

And then they were off and running.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson assumed the role and office of Acting Public Advocate when the prior Public Advocate, Letitia James, became State Attorney General, on January 1, 2019. The Public Advocate acts as an ombudsperson for all New Yorkers – a government official who champions the public and ensures government is responsive to their needs.

According to, “if the mayor is temporarily unable to carry out the responsibilities of the office, the public advocate is first in line to assume those responsibilities until the mayor returns. If the mayor vacates the office, the public advocate will take over, but only until a new mayor is elected. The public advocate’s primary role is to be a check on city agencies and investigate complaints about city services. The elected official, however, isn’t given much power to force the agencies to change if issues are found. The city charter essentially instructs the public advocate to refer complaints to the agency. If the agency doesn’t resolve the problems found, the public advocate can then submit reports to the City Council and mayor with recommendations on how to resolve the problems. The public advocate also can regularly review city programs and submit the evaluations to the Council and the mayor.”

There are 23 candidates for the job of Public Advocate. They are:

  1. Melissa Mark-Viverito
  2. Michael Blake
  3. Dawn Smalls
  4. Eric Ulrich
  5. Daniel O’Donnell
  6. Latrice Walker
  7. Rafael Espinal
  8. Jumaane Williams
  9. Ron Kim
  10. Ydanis Rodriguez
  11. Danniel Maio
  12. Gary Popkin
  13. Benjamin Yee
  14. Ifeoma Ike
  15. Manny Alicandro
  16. Michael Zumbluskas
  17. David Eisenbach
  18. Nomiki Konst
  19. Jared Rich
  20. Anthony Herbert
  21. Walter Iwachiw
  22. Theo Chino
  23. Helal Sheikh

The ballot positions, number of candidates and matching fund totals “could shift if candidates challenge the accuracy of one another’s petitions and once the campaign finance board audits donations,” reports the New York Times. “Candidates are already focusing on everything from buses and subways to public housing, privacy rights, increasing the minimum wage and improving the quality of life in the city.”

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